Today in technology class we had a video conference with Colin Regamy, the Distance Learning Coordinator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. I am very familiar with using Skype as a tool to connect with friends and family all over the world, but this was much more impressive than Skype! At first it was hard to get used to interacting with Colin through a TV screen, but much like Skype, after a few minutes I, as well as the rest (or at least most) of the class become comfortable with the technology. This was the first time the majority of the class (myself included) has experienced a video conference like this. It was a new and exciting experience for us all and one I think we all found interesting and engaging. Within a short 45 minutes, Colin was able to give us a sneak peak into 3 of the online programs offered by the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The first program Colin showed us was PIQ: Test your Palaeo Intelligence, a program intended for Kindergarten to Grade 3. During this program, students are led through a series of six games and challenges in an attempt to escape extinction as well as a deadly volcano that is about to erupt! Next Colin show us a program intended for students in grades 3-6 called Rockin' Alberta Resources. In this program, students explore the natural heritage of Alberta's badlands through palaeontology, geography, and geology. The last program Colin showed us was Applied Science in Palaeontology: Physics. This program is intended for grades 10-12. The program focuses on applying high school physics in the real world. All three of the programs we were introduced to are fun, interesting, and engaging. I think students as well as teachers would really benefit by using video conferencing in the classroom. There are so many great ways, we as educators can introduce this type of technology into our classrooms.
One of the links we were sent to during class was, 50 ways to use Skype in the classroom. This link is an excellent resource for teachers who are looking for ideas on how to take advantage of the power of Skype. This website gives some excellent examples, but is not an exhaustive list of the ideas for using Skype in the classroom. The ideas are endless!
Another website (link) we were sent to was the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. This website includes a library with a large variety of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, mostly in the form of Java applets, for mathematics instruction. The website provides programs for students in all grades (K-12 emphasis).
The programs I spoke about today, are just a few examples of programs that are available online for use by students and teachers. If you are looking for a new way to introduce a topic, subject, skill, etc. to your class, try looking for a program online... you will be amazed at what you can find!